Monday, February 21, 2011

The Cross

Have you noticed that the cross touches everything in your life?  Relationships, activities, phone calls, prayers - everything.

We have been chosen to love.

The cross, which is the ultimate depiction of love, requires us to be sacrificial in our daily lives. 

What does that look like?

Perhaps it means not unleashing our bad moods, or bad days, on anything that moves.  Replacing irritability with a heart that is focused on the other person, not on how rotten we feel.  Forcing ourselves to say or do something that would mean a lot to the other person, but which we find hard to deal with.  In essence, to quote Amy Carmichael, "See in it a chance to die."

The problem for those of us with CI is, we already feel like we're dying (on really bad days).  It is so very easy to become consumed with how our bodies are betraying us and narrow our focus down to include only ourselves.  We cease to recognize how our actions and reactions affect others.  In short, CI often breeds a subtle selfishness we fail to recognize or excuse because we feel so rotten.  We replace Jesus on the throne of our hearts with our illness.  Because it dictates our activity level, we coddle our bodies to the point where everything else - and every one else - are relegated to 2nd place.

Surely this is not what Jesus had in mind when He allowed this illness to enter our lives.

I know how hard it is to tear your focus away from the pain, the weakness, the inability to function the way ABs can.  Pain has a way of blotting out everything else - especially when it's throbbing or attaining new heights of affliction.

But all of that is still under the dominion of the cross.  He charges us to love others.  And when we force ourselves out of the bubble CI places around us, girded with pain and disability,  we are most like the One Who truly died rather than live without us.

For the Messiah, Jesus the Anointed One, the Christ, spent His time teaching us how to love.  Not to keep rules and regulations, but to love - and in doing so, the rules and regulations take c/o themselves.

Did you know that the cross is visible in the Old Testament as well?  Before any one had even conceived of the torture of the the Roman cross, God included it in His Word - then, as now, God can look on His people only through the redemptive power of the cross.

Go to Numbers, Chapter 2.  In it, God gives directions for how the Israelites are to travel.
Get a piece of paper.  In the middle put a capital "T"  for the tabernacle Make an x for every ten thousand mentioned in the text.

East of the T, we have Judah. v.9 tells us there were 186,400 from that tribe: make 19 x's to the left of the T.                                                                                                                          

 v.16 tells us the tribe of Reuben's divisions to the South are 151,450.  Make 15 x's downward from the T.

To the west is Ephraim's divisions: 108,100.  Make 11 x's to the right of the T.

And to the north are Dan's divisions: 157,600.  Make 15 x's  upward from the T.

What have you created?            

Amazing, isn't it?  When God would look down on His people, even then, He always saw the cross.  When He looks at us, He sees the same thing.

The trick is, when we look at ourselves, do we, too, see the same thing?

For me, that is a rare occurrence.

My heart's desire is to be a good and faithful servant.  Too often I am neither.

But the Holy Spirit reminds me that the cross has paid for all of my failures.  My task is to get up from where I've fallen, confess it, and move on - taking my place with the Tabernacle now within me, and following like the Israelites did:   keeping my eyes on Jesus and following wherever He leads, into illness or out of it, keeping the prize of loving in His Name ever present in my heart.

A friend of mine chooses a word to concentrate on each year - like "praise" or "obedience", etc.  I've decided to follow her example.

You can probably guess what word  I chose.

You're right.